Monday, May 30, 2011


Movie Moments: #45

Down Periscope  (1996)

A movie lacking in critical acclaim and way down on the popularity meter, but I like it.  Hire it, have a look at it and find out whether you raise a few laughs and smiles.

Kelsey Grammer is an unorthodox submarine officer who has a chance to save his career: take an old rust bucket and see if you penetrate a US naval bases guarded by nuclear subs.  A crew of rejects and misfits and a female Diving Officer are added to the mix by a spiteful admiral.

Rear Admiral Yancy Graham: Don't you realise that you are addressing a superior officer?
Lt Comd Dodge: No... Merely a higher ranking one!

The poster below is the theatrical release poster for the film.  It shows two submarines alongside each other with a submarine in the middle.  Am I the only one who sees a sexual imagery here?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Iconic Photographs: Boulevard du Temple

    (Click on images to enlarge).

The photograph above, taken by Louis Daguerre on the streets of Paris in 1838, is entitled Boulevard du Temple.  Its fame and iconic status comes from the fact that it is the first photograph to depict a person.  The exposure time was 10 minutes, hence moving traffic does not appear.  At the bottom left a man and a shoeshine boy are visible, having been still long enough to form an image. 

In October 2010 a graphic artist played around with the image to see if he could locate more persons.  He colourised the photograph, digitally enhanced it  and allowed enlargement by clicking on the image.  The website is at:

Movie Moments: #44

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

Not the best Austin Powers flick.  As usually there are the internal references and parodies of Bond movies but there are also some truly Ewww! moments, mostly concerning The Fat Bastard.  It is today’s Movie Moment in that it raises a valid issue about the Bond movies,  typified by the previous Movie Moment about Bond and Goldfinger’s laser.

Dr Evil and Mini-Me escape prison and link up with another super bad dude, Goldmember, so named because he lost his genitalia in a smelting accident and replaced his private parts with a golden key.  They kidnap Austin’s dad, superspy Nigel Powers, played by Michael Caine looking like Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File. (Austin’s glasses are a copy of those worn by Harry Palner).

Dr Evil:  Scott, I want you to meet daddy's nemesis, Austin Powers
Scott Evil:  Why are you feeding him? Why don't you just kill him?
Dr Evil:   In due time.
Scott Evil:   But what if he escapes?  Why don’t you just shoot him.  What are you waiting for?
Dr Evil: I have an even better idea. I'm going to place him in an easily escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death.
Scott Evil:  Why don’t you just shoot him now?  Here, I’ll get a gun.  We’ll just shoot him.  Bang.  Dead.  Done.
Dr Evil:  One more peep out of you and you’re grounded.
(Dr Evil orders that Bond  and Foxxy be lowered into a tank of ravenous, mutated sea bass.)
Dr Evil:  Come, let’s return to dinner.  Close the tank.
Scott Evil: Aren't you going to watch them? They’ll get away.
Dr Evil: No we’ll leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, and we’ll just assume it all went to plan.
Scott Evil: I have a gun, in my room.  Give me five seconds, I'll  come back  and  blow their brains out!
DrEvil: No Scott, you just don't get it, do you?

Sean Connery was approached to play Nigel Powers.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Change of plan

A slight change:  no Bytes on Sunday, Saturday's Bytes appears below.

A Cup of tea, a Bex . .


Yesterday I used the expression “A cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down” when in conversation with my wife, Kate, and my two sons, Thomas and Elliot. The boys are now 22 and 17 respectively and they were nonplussed by the reference to “a Bex”.

Back in the 60’s Bex was the “housewive’s friend”.
What a drag it is getting old
"Kids are different today"
I hear ev'ry mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she's not really ill
There's a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

(“Mother’s Little Helper”, Rolling Stones)
Back then there were no Panadols, Nurofen et al, just a choice of Aspro tablets or the much stronger Bex powders and its rival Vincents Powders. Bex was the market leader. Both Bex and Vincents tasted nasty, being dissolved in a glass of water and drunk. I remember hearing about an old man who wanted to take a Bex in the park: he poured it into his mouth (it came in folded, unsealed paper saches) and went to the water bubbler for a drink to wash it down, only to find that the bubbler didn’t work.

Movie Moments: #43

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

A movie in two parts: young man in basic training during the Vietnam War and then their experiences when sent to Vietnam. A cult movie with a cult figure: Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. The first twenty minutes alone will leave you drained. A personal fave of mine.

See above.

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying for war. But until that day you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human, fucking beings. You are nothing but unorganized grabastic pieces of amphibian shit! You will not like me. But the more you hate me the more you will learn. I am hard but I am fair. There is no racial bigotry here. I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops or greasers. Here you are all equally worthless. And my orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved Corps. Do you maggots understand that?

Former US Marine Corps Drill Instructor R. Lee Ermey was not originally hired to play Gunnery Sgt. Hartman but as a consultant for the Marine Corps boot camp portion of the film. He performed a demonstration on videotape in which he yelled obscene insults and abuse for 15 minutes without stopping, repeating himself or even flinching - despite being continuously pelted with tennis balls and oranges. Stanley Kubrick was so impressed that he cast Ermey as Hartman.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

No Bytes on Saturday or Sunday

But don't fret, Bytes will resume on Monday.

Funny Friday

Office signs (click on the images to enlarge):

Movie Moments: #42

Goldfinger (1964)

Bonds may come and Bonds may go but the best remains Sean Connery. Apart from Connery, a good story, a memorable theme song sung by Shirley Bassey, Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore, a henchman named Oddjob who kills with his hat, a beautiful gold plated corpse and a scene that has become a classic, where Bond is about to lose his double-0’s by laser, make this one of the Bond classics.

Auric Goldfinger wants to steal the gold in Fort Knox and wipe out the world’s economy. Who is there to stop him and save civilisation as we know it?

James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

Ian Fleming got the name "Goldfinger" from his alleged dislike of Hungarian modernist architect Erno Goldfinger. Among other things Erno Goldfinger designed London's Trellick Tower, built in 1968. When Ernö Goldfinger sought legal advice in regard to Ian Fleming using his surname in the "Goldfinger" novel, Fleming allegedly considered re-naming the character "Goldprick". The parody Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) revives the idea.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The old Supreme Court building, Sydney . . .


 As the new Supreme Court building in Sydney undergoes extensive renovation, it is worth looking at some early views of the old Supreme Court building. Constructed between 1819 and 1829, with sittings commencing in 1824, the Supreme Court and the nearby St James Church and Hyde Park Barracks (all designed by convict architect Francis Greenway) form a precinct of some of Sydney’s oldest buildings.

Click on the images to enlarge.

Lithograph of St James Church and the Supreme Court, 1836 by Robert Russell

Movie Moments: #41

Made in Dagenham (2010)

A true story, although the main character is a composite of a number of characters. It is often forgotten that what is today taken for granted as the norm has not always been so, that equality has been achieved by the struggles of those not equal. (And if you want to sound like a true Pom, pronounce it Dagn’m, not Dag-en-ham).

It’s 1968 and women earn a fraction of what their male counterparts earn for the same work. They are also rated as unskilled whereas men doing the same work are rated as skilled. 187 female machinists at Dagenham Ford motor plant go on strike, demanding equality and respect. Opposed by husbands, male co-workers, management, unions and government, 187 courageous females with ordinary lives and from ordinary backgrounds, remain steadfast in their demand for justice.


“We gotta demand pay that reflects the job you do, not whether you got a dick or not.”

Journalist 1: What if the minister says no deal?
Journalist 2: Yeah, how will you cope then?
Rita O’Grady: Cope? We're women. Now don't ask such stupid questions.

At one point in the movie the striking women unfurl a banner which says “We want Sexual Equality.” Because the banner is not fully unfurled, it reads “We Want Sex.” This was the working title for the movie when it was in production and it was actually released in Germany under that name, causing numerous young males to leave in disgust when they realised it wasn't a porno flick.

Quote: Mother Teresa

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

- Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997) was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, was Albanian with Indian citizenship. In 1950 she founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, ministering to the sick, poor, orphaned and dying for the next 45 years. She also guided the expansion of the Missionaries of Charity. Following her death she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. (Funnily enough, her middle name, Gonxha, means “rosebud" in Albanian).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Movie Moments: #40

Judgment at Nuremburg (1961)

A great film with an outstanding cast: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximilian Schell, Werner Klemperer, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, William Shatner and Montgomery Clift.  This is a movie about one of the basest periods in human history and raises a basic and fundamental dilemna:  Where does moral accountability stand when a government makes bad laws?

Inspired by the actual Judges/ Trial before the military Tribunal in Nuremburg in 1947, this 1961 movie deals with the trial of the judges who upheld and enforced the sterilisation and cleansing laws of the Nazis. Against a backdrop of the escalating Cold War, the film looks at issues of collective and individual responsibility.

Judge Dan Haywood:
Herr Janning, to be sure, is a tragic figure. We believe he “loathed” the evil he did. But compassion for the present torture of his soul must not beget forgetfulness of the torture and death of millions by the government of which he was a part. Janning's record and his fate illuminate the most shattering truth that has emerged from this trial. If he and the other defendants were all depraved perverts - if the leaders of the Third Reich were sadistic monsters and maniacs - these events would have no more moral significance than an earthquake or other natural catastrophes.

But this trial has shown that under the stress of a national crisis, men - even able and extraordinary men - can delude themselves into the commission of crimes and atrocities so vast and heinous as to stagger the imagination. No one who has sat through this trial can ever forget. The sterilisation of men because of their political beliefs... The murder of children... How “easily” that can happen!

There are those in our country today, too, who speak of the "protection" of the country. Of "survival". The answer to that is: “survival as what”? A country isn't a rock. And it isn't an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for, when standing for something is the most difficult! Before the people of the world - let it now be noted in our decision here that this is what we stand for: justice, truth... and the value of a single human being!

By the time the film was made, 1961, all of the judges sentenced to imprisonment in the Judges’ Trial had already been released.

Monday, May 23, 2011

People: Bob Gould RIP

News report Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 2011:
A FEW hours after Bob Gould's death at age 74 yesterday, the doors to his Newtown bookstore were open to the public.

''That's what Bob would have liked,'' said his daughter, Natalie Gould. ''He loved books and this place has been his life. Keeping it open is the best thing.''

The secondhand bookseller and left-wing activist had been frail for some time, but still worked at the store a couple of hours most days. He was sorting through his own books at the store, when he fell and injured his head. By the time the ambulance arrived, it was too late. Friends and relatives gathered at the store yesterday with his wife, Janet Bonser.

I was sorry to read that Bob Gould had passed away. Both he and his bookstore, Gould's Book Arcade in Newtown (named after the famous and historic Cole’s Book Arcade in Melbourne), were Sydney icons and it is always sad when an icon disappears from the scene.

Some personal anecdotes:

Movie Moments: #39

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Many years ago I saw the James Stewart/June Allyson version a You’ve Got Mail, a delightful movie called The Shop Around The Corner, and loved it. This updated version reunites America’s sweethearts, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and is as good, if not better, than the original. Chickflick? Who cares. I like it.

Joe Fox establishes a mega bookstore in a neighbourhood that is already serviced by a small bookshop owned and run by Kathleen Kelly. Although hostile to each other, each is unaware that they are exchanging emails.

Joe Fox: Don't cry, Shopgirl. Don't cry.
Kathleen Kelly: I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.

The location of Fox Books in the movie is actually the location of a real-life Barnes & Noble, on Broadway and 83nd street on the upper west side. The Barnes and Noble generated considerable neighbourhood opposition when it opened in the early 1990s, as many feared it would drive a local bookseller, Shakespeare & Co. on 81st street, out of business. This is exactly what happened.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Some thoughts about the end of the world. . .

(This topic was suggested  to me by my father in law, Noel, who may or may not have had a bag packed).

News report:

The prophecy of the end of the world ended with a whimper, not a bang, Saturday as life went on as usual despite warnings of Judgment Day by a US preacher which provoked panic in some quarters and parties in others. Televangelist Harold Camping had insisted the so-called "Rapture" would begin with powerful earthquakes at 6:00 pm local time in each of the world's regions, with worthy souls transported to heaven. According to the 89-year-old and his religious broadcasting network Family Radio, the not-so-good were to suffer hell on earth until October 21, when God pulls the plug on the planet once and for all.

In the US . . . suicide prevention hotlines had been set up, according to the Washington Post, amid fears despondent Family Radio followers would be depressed if the apocalypse fails to materialise.

Quote: Julia Gillard

''Tony Abbott has said of himself that he is John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop's political love child. Heaven knows that's bad enough but the truth is he is acting more [like] the love child of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump.''

- Prime Minister Julia Gillard, during an address to the Victorian State Labor Party Conference.
Sydney Morning Herald

The above images are used with the kind consent of the artist, Andy Dolphin, whose site is at:

Movie Moments: #38

Crackerjack (2002)

Bill Hunter, one of Australia’s popular actors, died yesterday of cancer. He was aged 71. Hunter starred in numerous local films - Gallipoli, Strictly Ballroom, Muriel's Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Australia - but my personal favourite is Crackerjack. A very funny Australian movie about a very Australian pastime, lawn bowls, with some very fine Australian actors, including Mick Molloy, Bill Hunter, John Clarke and Judith Lucy. Go Oz.

Jack Simpson, a bit of a smartarse, joins a lawn bowls club to be allowed to use a free parking space. When the club enters financial difficulty, Simpson is forced to play lawn bowls with the much older crowd, resulting in some funny moments and self discovery.

(Gwen is an elderly lawn bowler and club member).
Gwen: Swear jar.
Jack: What?
Gwen: It's a jar you put money in if you say ‘fuck’!

The 'Wheel of Cheese' incident actually happened. While the writers were visiting various bowls clubs for inspiration, one of them explained the sordid story of a club investigation into a member using the cheese for a sandwich instead of the regulation cheese and biscuits.

Bill Hunter standing in front of his portrait by Jason Benjamin for the 2005 Archibald. It won the Packing Room prize. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Raleigh & Son

Sometimes you come across a tiny bit of information that causes you to see something, or someone, in a completely new or different light. Like first finding out that Bob Hawke, whilst a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, set a Guinness record for drinking 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds (“"In a political sense, it was one of the big advantages I got out of my time at Oxford. It endeared me to a large section of the Australian voting population that I had a world beer drinking record.” - Bob Hawke). Or that actor Jack Nicholson only discovered that his "parents" were actually his grandparents, the person he believed to be his sister actually being his mother. He discovered this only after being informed by a journo from Time doing an article on him.

So it is with an item I came across about Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) pictured above, and his son, also named Walter.

Before looking at that item, a brief biography is in order.

Movie Moments: #37

Major Payne (1995)

Artsy movies may be the choice of critics and people who go to art house movie theatres but oftentime B grade movies are more fun and more entertaining. Case in point: Major Payne. It is corny, over acted and politically incorrect but very funny and a film I enjoy watching every now and then. (Yes, I do watch films more than once. Rereading books and rewatching movies every now and then is like coming back to a favourite haunt).

A hardened Marine killing machine is discharged and finds it hard to adapt to civilian life. Placed in charge of a Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps at a prep school, his tough military methods cause the young students under his care to want to get rid of him. Think Full Metal Jacket meets Kindergarten Cop.

Major Payne: “You'll get no sympathy from me. You want sympathy, look in the dictionary between shit and syphilis.”

In one scene, Major Payne tells the children, "Now apparently, what we have here, is a failure to communicate!" This is a famous quote from the Paul Newman movie Cool Hand Luke.

People: Tsutomu Yamaguchi

Tsutomu Yamaguchi died on 4 January 2010, aged 93.


Yes, he isn’t as well known as, for instance, as actors and celebrities who died in 2010:
Blake Edwards
Leslie Nielsen
Gary Coleman
Tony Curtis
Eddie Fisher
Patricia Neal
Dennis Hopper
Lena Horne
Peter Graves
Kathryn Grayson
Fess Parker
J D Salinger
Erich Segal
Jean Simmons
Pernell Roberts

Yamaguchi San, however, had a claim to uniqueness that few others had and, depending on your point of view, he was either one of the luckiest, or unluckiest, individuals from WW2.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was nuked at both Hirsoshima and Nagasaki but survived.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Movie Moments: #36

Citizen Kane (1941)

A few weeks ago I attended a friend’s birthday celebration at the Rosebud Café in Rozelle, named after the use of that word in Citizen Kane. Regarded by critics and movie geeks as one of the best, if not the best, movie ever made, with innovative cinematography, musical score and narrative structure, imho the movie is a bit dated these days and a bit of a chore to sit through. The best movie Oscar for that year went to How Green Was My Valley, both Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon missing out. Nominated in 9 categories, it won only one, for writing. It flopped at the box office, not even recovering its production cost.

The puzzling last utterance of newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane is the word “Rosebud”. A newspaper reporter tries to find the meaning behind the word, the life story of Kane being revealed in a series of flashbacks. In the process we see his spiritual decline as he pursues success, fame, wealth, power and immortality.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Funny Friday

From Byter Leo:

New Book:  
First volume of the new book "How to Understand Women" 

Movie Moments: #35

A Night at the Opera (1935)

My reason in posting another A Night at the Opera item is that my wife recently asked me something akin to Mrs Claypool’s question below. I responded as per the Otis B Driftwood reply but she was unaware I was quoting Groucho Marx. Even after three quarters of a century the Marx Brothers are still great. One of their best.

The Marx Brothers try to assist two young lovers in their relationship and to achieve operatic success. Margaret Dumont again plays the comic foil to Groucho as he romances her for her money, telling the stuffy head of the New York Opera Company “Now listen here, Gottlieb, making love to Mrs. Claypool is my racket. What you're after is $200,000. And you'd better make it sound plausible, because, as incredible as it may seem, Mrs. Claypool isn't as big a sap as she looks. (Groucho looks at the camera) How's that for lovemaking?” Dumont appeared in seven Marx Brothers films, leading Groucho to comment that she was "practically the fifth Marx brother."

Mrs. Claypool: Are you sure you have everything, Otis?
Otis B. Driftwood: Well, I haven't had any complaints yet.

Producer Irving Thalberg would often call people in for meetings, and then keep them waiting in his office for hours while he attended other meetings on the MGM lot. One day, during pre-production for A Night at the Opera (1935), Thalberg kept The Marx Brothers waiting for several hours in his secretary's office, while he was in his own office making phone calls. When Thalberg's secretary went home for the day, the brothers decided they'd had enough. They pushed the office file cabinets against Thalberg's door, trapping the producer in his office.
Afterwards, Thalberg kept his appointments with the Marx Brothers, but would often interrupt his meetings with them and step out to attend other meetings - again keeping the brothers waiting for hours. One day, Thalberg came back from another meeting to find Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, and Harpo Marx sitting in his office completely naked, and roasting potatoes on sticks in his office fireplace. Thalberg sat down with them, had a potato, and never missed or interrupted another meeting with the Marx Brothers.


Yesterday I promised a second item about Hell.  Here it is: Rowan Atkinson as the Devil, welcoming newcomers...

Hello, nice to see you all again.

As the more perceptive of you have probably realised by now - this is Hell, and I am the Devil. Good evening. You can call me Toby, if you like - we try and keep things informal down here, as well as infernal.

Now, you're all here for eternity, which I hardly need tell you is a sod of a long time, so you get to know everyone pretty well by the end, but for now I'll have to split you up into groups.

Are there any questions

No, I'm afraid we don't have any toilets, if you'd read your Bible you would have seen that it was damnation without relief. So, I'm afraid if you didn't go before you came then you're not going to enjoy yourself very much, but then, I believe that's the general idea. Right, let's split you up then.

Can you all hear me? CAN YOU HEAR ME AT THE RACK?

Off we go,

Murderers, over here. Looters and pillagers - over there please, thieves if you could join them, and BANK MANAGERS.

Fornicators, if you could step forward... My God there are a lot of you. Could I split you up into adulterers and the rest? Adulterers if you could just form a line in front of that small guillotine there.

AMERICANS, are you here? I'm sorry about this, apparently God had some fracas with your founding fathers and damned the entire race into perpetuity. He sends particular condolences to the Mormons who He realises put in a lot of work. The Iranians, I'm afraid, couldn't be with us - someone's been holding them in purgatory for the last nine months.

Sodomites, over there against the wall.

Atheists, over here please. You must be feeling a right bunch of charlies.

Christians, ah yes, I'm afraid the Jews were right.

Moonies, maniacs, marmite eaters, male models, masochists, mass murderers and masseurs, if you could take a pew at the back - with the Methodists that is.

Now, you're the lot who used to kill whales, is that right? Ah, yes, I must remember - I've got some strips to tear off you bastards later.

Everyone who saw Monty Pythons' "Life Of Brian", I'm afraid He can't take a joke after all.

Alright now, one final thing - we're trying to implement some sort of exchange scheme with the Lord God Almighty, or Cliff as we know him. Some of you will spend a decade in heaven and we're having some angels down here. Now, I hardly need tell you that you will be expected to behave in an exemplary manner, so, I hope you will do the exact opposite - tear off their wings, use their haloes for Frisbee practice, that sort of thing.

Well, I have to go now, but Beelzebub here will show you the ropes... and the chains... and the electrodes.